As we all know by now, the upcoming school year is going to be quite different from what we are used to, for parents and children. Social distancing rules, wearing masks, frequent handwashing and sanitation, temperature checks, and more remote learning will all likely be a part of the mix. Now that we’ve stocked up on masks and practiced proper handwashing and social distancing rules, it seems prudent to consider what school routines will look like in the new school year and how we can best support our kids through these changes. With the odds against a typical 8 am to 3 pm school schedule, we’ve put together some tips to help you and your family with new routines.
Change in pick up and drop off routines
It's likely that schools will adjust drop off and pick up procedures. Your school may implement policies with specific time windows for when to drop off your children, to help reduce the risk imposed where there are large gatherings of people.
There may be varied traffic control by traffic guards and school faculty to ensure that the flow of drop offs goes at a slower, manageable rate, letting children enter school safely. So, assume dropping off your kids is going to take more time than usual, and plan accordingly. Leaving 10 to 15 minutes earlier than normal may take a little getting used to. We recommend using a Time Timer in the morning for you and your kids alike to pay attention to, so that you all have a visual countdown for when it’s time to leave to get to school.
The same applies for pick ups as well. There are a variety of ways to do this, but it’s possible that kids will leave school in waves. For example, kids whose last names begin with A-M will be dismissed, then N-Z, or perhaps it will be by grade, or what floor they are currently on, or more. Like with drop-off, assume that pick-up will take longer than usual.
With staggered schedules for the start and close of the school day, creating and maintaining a daily routine will help kids to feel a sense of predictability and a sense of control during uncertain times.
Changes in routine at school
Your individual schools will reach out to you (if they haven’t already) to let you know exactly what school schedules will resemble for your kids. To make sure your kids are prepared and won’t be thrown off or distracted by the “newness” of the first week of classes, give them rundowns right now of what they can expect for the next year. There may be smaller classroom sizes and staggered schedules for different days or morning and afternoon shifts.
Even if your school has yet to email you with plans for implementing safety procedures, you can be certain that your children will be required to practice proper sanitation methods, that they’ll be spending more time washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, cleaning their desks and supplies, and other new routines.
Teachers may be rotating classrooms rather than kids moving in the hallways during class periods, so let them know how they will navigate their day.
Lunch time will also be different. Along with social distancing rules, let them know what to expect if mealtimes are staggered and if there are limits to recess or the number of kids on the playground, for example.
Overall, the routines for both students and parents alike will be radically different from what we’re all used to. Using a Time Timer to set the tone each day can be a helpful tool in maintaining a grounding daily routine for everyone.
Our children look to us for guidance on how to react to unusual or stressful situations, so talk with your kids about these precautions to ensure they understand they are both necessary and beneficial for everyone to be safe and healthy during this time. If your kids have concerns, answer them truthfully and simply, and provide space to listen and let them express themselves.
This school year will be different, but with a little preparation we will navigate through it together!